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January 18. 2014 8:53PM

NHIAA Basketball: Gendron paces Merrimack boys past Exeter

EXETER - The difference between the Exeter High School boys' basketball team's victory over Merrimack in last month's Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament and the game the teams played Saturday?

Eric Gendron.

Exeter held Gendron to 16 points during its eight-point triumph in the QCIBT, but he poured in 36 in Merrimack's 60-45 win Saturday.

Gendron, a senior guard, made five 3-pointers in the game, and scored 15 points in the final quarter.

"Obviously I was hitting more of my shots than I was at the Queen City," Gendron said. "We were really moving the ball well tonight from side to side and moving the defense. That allowed me to get in the paint. Unlike the first time we played them, we were able to execute down the stetch."

Gendron's 36-point effort was three points shy of his career high, which he established in a double-overtime victory against Alvirne of Hudson earlier this season. He did most of his scoring after he picked up his third foul with 1:10 remaining in the first half.

"He just took the team on his back this afternoon and willed us to victory," Merrimack coach Tim Goodridge said. "He does a lot of things well. He's in there rebounding, he plays pretty darn good (defense), he distributes the ball. He's a well-rounded basketball player."

The victory raised Merrimack's Division I record to 5-0. Manchester Central (5-0) and Trinity of Manchester (5-0) are the only other unbeaten teams in the division.

Junior guard Austin Franzen finished the game with 11 points and was the only other Merrimack player who scored in double figures.

Senior point guard Zack Holler led Exeter with 14. The Blue Hawks received 12 points from 6-foot-6 center Max Medley and 10 from junior guard Ben Swett.

Exeter held a two-point lead at halftime, but was outscored 36-19 over the final two quarters. The loss dropped Exeter's record to 4-4.

"Not a good second half for us when we needed it," Exeter coach Jeff Holmes said. "We were up two at the half and I felt pretty good. We didn't look that sharp in the second half. It was a game that was real physical, and that's an advantage for them."

Merrimack led 47-42 with 3:01 to play, and put the game away by going on a 9-0 run that pushed the lead to 14. Gendron scored 12 points, including each of his eight free throw attempts, in the final 3;17.

"(Gendron) is a real tough matchup," Holmes said. "He's a really good player and he hit some shots that make you shake your head. He was the difference tonight. No question."

rbrown@unionleader.com


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